Wayne Rooney scored twice in the first half to help Manchester United to a comfortable 2-0 win over West Ham.
The first was a spectacular long-range effort that evoked memories of David Beckham’s goal at Selhurst Park in 1996, and gave the Reds breathing space with only eight minutes on the clock. In fact David Moyes’ side had already looked comfortable before Rooney’s opener, despite several changes from the line-up that performed so well against Olympiacos in midweek.
Injuries, suspensions and possibly thoughts of next Tuesday’s Manchester derby led to a reshuffle that included Michael Carrick and Phil Jones playing together in central defence. Marouane Fellaini’s early header was cleared away from two yards out by Carroll, while Juan Mata forced Adrian into a save before Rooney’s spectacular effort. Collecting a pass from Ashley Young just inside the opposition half, the striker looked up quickly and caught the home goalkeeper off his line with a looping effort that dipped into the net to stun all those inside the Boleyn Ground – which included Beckham himself.
Mata and Shinji Kagawa both had efforts saved before United struck again with a characteristically potent counter-attack. The hosts were still claiming a penalty for Darren Fletcher’s challenge on Kevin Nolan when Rooney fed Ashley Young, who raced upfield before crossing. Mark Noble’s fluffed clearance went straight to Rooney, who will never score a simpler close-range goal.
The home side gave a spirited response after the break, but United kept their opponents at arm’s length and even though Fellaini had a late penalty claim ignored, the Reds comfortably brought the curtain came down on a clinical away win.
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